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Raising a Good Sport

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Mom-mentum provides our Mothers’ Center Group members with access to Group Discussion Guides meant to encourage reflection and conversation. This post was inspired by our discussion guide: The Spirit of Competition. This guide gives participants the opportunity to reflect on how competition plays a role in their own lives and that of their children. To download this guide and others, 
log in and visit Mom-mentum’s members only area of our website. Not a member? Learn more here about our Mothers’ Center Groups and how you can get involved.
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Diverse group of boys and girls soccer players standing together with a ball against a simple blue sky background

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Raising a Good Sport

By Brandi Walerius

As a proud mother and former college cheerleader, I encourage my children to excel. If my eight or three-year-old does something that makes me proud, I’m going to shower them with compliments, a hug and a kiss, and I might even break out some “spirit sprinkles.”

I want my children to know when they do a good job. I will absolutely tell them when I am proud of their efforts. I hope these acknowledgements set the stage for repeating the positive behaviors and instills in them self-esteem and confidence:

confidence: belief of one’s power or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance
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Yes; confidence sounds like something I should be encouraging in my children and their abilities.

There is, however, an awfully fine line between confidence and conceit:

conceited: having an excessively favorable opinion of one’s abilities, appearance
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I have an incredibly active school-aged child who plays basketball and travel soccer. I have seen him and his teammates hover back and forth over this very fine line of confidence and conceit. After one of his friends recently demonstrated his ability to multiply, my son decided to “one up” him by dividing. When his soccer team won by 10-2, my son’s winning team gloated, “well that was easy” in a loud enough manner for the other team to hear.

Winning is great, but being a good winner is even better. Being confident is great but not being conceited. Where do you draw the line? In my past, I’ve presented a “How to Interview for a Job” workshop. One of the skills that I found most participants struggled with was the ability to sell themselves to an employer. They struggled with tooting their own horn, recognizing their skill sets and vocalizing why they should be chosen for the job. So to teach my children this skill, all while not encouraging conceit can be challenging.

After that soccer game win, I had a long, hard talk with my son. We talked about how to be a gracious winner. We talked about how to consider the other team’s feelings after the members tried incredibly hard and fell short. We talked about how to value effort and not just the outcome. I also taught him how to become a “secret master.” A “secret master” doesn’t have to go on and on continuously talking about how he knows something or excels at something to the point that it turns into bragging. A secret master knows his abilities and communicates them in a way that doesn’t discourage someone else’s efforts.

Yes; winning and losing is a part of life (as it should be) but one should win and lose with grace. I hope, as a parent, that I am teaching the right lesson correctly.

To all those secret masters out there, don’t be afraid to let your talent shine… just don’t be a jerk about it.

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Leave a Comment: How do you teach your children the difference between confidence and conceit when it comes to athletics and activities?
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BrandiHeadshot


Brandi Walerius
 is a member of the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo and helps co-facilitate their ‘Executive Mommas’ group—where members are able to professionally network and learn from each other while also getting support through the joys and frustrations of working and mothering. Brandi lives in Sylvania, Ohio with her husband and 2 young children, is a lifestyle blogger atwithbrandi.com, a Human Resource and Business consultant and also works for Mom-mentum‚ developing and supporting new Mothers’ Center Groups as the Group Growth Manager.

 

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